How Much Does Home Health Care Cost?

Posted on November 19, 2018.

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Paying for aged care can be confusing: think of your home care funding like a bucket. The government will tip in the majority and you will need to make a contribution as well.

The payment from the Commonwealth Government is called an Aged Care Subsidy. When you are approved and choose aged care, this subsidy is managed on your behalf by your provider. They work with you to work out your individual budget to fund your senior care services or care plan. Find out more about care and case management here.

Home Care Packages are allocated in “levels” 1 to 4 with the higher levels receiving more funding to support the higher cost of care.

Under special circumstances, more government funding can be accessed but it’s best to check with Centrelink or the Department of Veterans Affairs about the range of supports you may be able to claim, including:

  • Veterans - for veterans with a mental health condition accepted by the DVA
  • Dementia & Cognition - for people with cognitive impairment associated with dementia (assessment required)
  • Oxygen - for people with a specified medical need for the continual administration of oxygen
  • Enteral Feeding - for people with a specified medical need for enteral feeding
  • Viability - for people living in rural /remote regions
  • Top up - applies only to people who held an EACH-D (Level 4) package prior to 1 August 2013
  • Hardship - for people who have genuine financial hardship, who do not have income to pay a basic daily care fee due to circumstances beyond their control.

The Government will be able to work out if you need to make a contribution to the cost of care if you currently receive a Centrelink payment such as the aged or disability support pension, or if you are paid a pension or Veterans Supplement from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Basic Daily Care Fee

Regardless of who you choose to provide your senior care services, the Government allows care providers to charge a basic daily care fee. This is your contribution to the cost of care and services you have chosen.

This is normal and enables home care providers to account for things like operational and administrative costs: they are not funded separately for operating costs, such as buildings, vehicles, telephones, staff training and administration. So some of the package funds are used to contribute to these costs.

Providers also need to cover the cost of care and services coordination, including things like home visits for assessments and reviews, care plan development, making and receiving calls relating to the care plan and rosters, and so forth.

Many providers charge an administration percentage and additional case management charges so it’s worth checking with your potential provider about hidden or extra charges included in your home care services costs.

For example, with Juniper there are no additional charges for contacting a care advisor, ringing the office to change schedules or having care plans updated when situations change and they do not charge exit fees.

The basic daily care fee comes out of your own pocket but it will be added to your Home Care Package (your “funding bucket”) and be put towards your home care services costs. The basic daily fee is currently calculated as a percentage of the single person rate of the basic age pension.

Your home care provider should send you regular statements so you can see how the funding for your Home Care Package is being used to cover on your in home care costs.

The good news is, depending on your care needs and package funding, some providers may be able to organise a reduced amount or waive fees. If you agree to pay for more care or services not covered in your package, you will be required to pay for these services as an additional amount.

What are Means (Income) Tested Fees?

Australia’s population is ageing rapidly and quality senior care services are expensive. The Government believes it’s the community’s collective responsibility to cover the cost of care by asking those who can afford to make a contribution to do so.

If your income is above a certain amount, you must pay a Means Tested Fee (also called an Income Tested Fee). The fee is assessed by Centrelink and increases the higher the client’s income is. The government subsidy for the package is reduced by the same amount as the income tested care fee.

Annual Caps

As at 20 September 2018, the maximum amount of income-tested care fees for home care you can be asked to pay is:

  • $14.96 per day or $5,446.43 per year for people with income below $52,036.40 (Single person income rate)
  • $29.92 per day or $10,892.89 per year for people with income above $52,036.40 (Single person income rate)

These caps are indexed on 20 March and 20 September each year.

If you don’t receive any form of means-tested support payments, it’s a good idea to complete a Centrelink Aged Care Fees Income Assessment Form.

Why do you need to do this? It will help determine the level of financial support the government will kick in towards your in-home care costs. It’s important to know that if you don’t provide the form you will need to pay the maximum fee to the aged care provider.

My Aged Care also recommends you get this formal income assessment after your ACAT assessment so you know upfront how much your contribution will be.

If you receive senior care services at home and are having problems paying your fees, it’s best to contact your provider who will be able to assist or drop a line to the government at My Aged Care which has information about accessing financial hardship assistance.

Remember, you won’t be able to get hardship support if you started a home care package before 1 July 2014, have gifted certain amounts in the past year or five years and have a certain value of assets. Visit Centrelink in person or online to get more information on hardship payments.

What can I buy with my package?

Consumer Directed Care gives you more say in how your senior care services are delivered and who provides them but there are certain limits on what you can spend your money on. In short, funds can be spent on most things that relate to your or your loved one’s care and well-being. The list is endless and you have great flexibility and choice in the kinds of services and supports you can access.

The good news is you can choose the senior care services you wish to access: this can be in the form of care workers, gardeners, podiatrists, taxi drivers and more. A quality provider will facilitate the delivery of the service when it suits you, so give the provider a call to discuss what suits you best.

Organisations like Juniper have been around a long time and have qualified and competent care workers who provide high quality care and support services for clients.

In addition to senior care services, a large range of other services can be purchased through home care package funds which can include ongoing continence requirements, furniture or home modifications.

Again, it’s good to know you don’t need to do the hard yards yourself: your chosen aged care provider can help organise an assessment for the perfect solution as well as delivery and installation. Remember when you are shopping around, ask about the potential hidden extras in your home care services cost. Some providers will charge for each phone call, every kilometre, every minute of overtime.

Need care now and waiting for a package?

Many older people may be in the situation of having to wait months for a package allocation from the Government. While Government is working to remedy this, some providers have specialised senior care services for you to access immediately.

If you have been approved for a home care package but have not been assigned a package from the National Priority Queue, some providers offer an “interim package” which can help you access the home care you need right away, with services such as personal care, housework, meal preparation, transport and shopping.

This interim service may also offer ways to encourage and support you to enjoy life including connecting with friends, participating in physical activities or enjoying a new hobby. Make some calls and find out about how these services work and how much you need to contribute.

With Juniper Care Start you purchase a bundle of service hours and let us know which services you would like to include.

Visit our Home Care page or call 1300 313 000 to discuss how Home Care or interim services can help you at home.